This week’s focus: Has annual planning run its course? An NHS client has been asked to put forward a 5-year plan to the authorities, and my multinational clients still undertake a 3-year planning process. The trouble is none of the managers believe any of their plans will ever happen. Despite all the time and effort these plans take to complete, these teams are simply going through the motions. Even annual plans rarely happen in reality, do they?

The pace of chance and uncertainty in most markets mean that it is more important to be able to be fast and agile than it is to plan well. My clients make the most progress when they have a clear strategic direction and a high level view of activity over the next 18 months, but where they focus their efforts and more detailed plans on the coming 3-6 months. That way, they are able to learn, adapt and flex resources, maximising their speed and success.

Where do your planning processes help you deliver success, and where have they turned into rituals that your managers follow blindly and simply go through the motions?

Off the record: Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) by John Lennon

Life is what happens to you

While you’re busy making other plans

© Stuart Cross 2013. All rights reserved.